In what city did you grow up? I grew up in Cottage Grove, Minnesota and went to school at St. Cloud State University. After college, I lived in Alaska for the summer managing a youth hostel and then moved to Arizona. I lived there for 24 years, primarily in Tucson, before moving to Fort Wayne in 2017.
What do you actually do at your job? I am a division manager of lumber and building material for Do it Best Corp, a member-owned CO-OP. Our teams work as an extension of our members’ stores, and buy lumber and building material for them to sell to their customers. In addition to securing product, our teams help members with buying strategies and act as a resource when they need help understanding the market. We also negotiate and manage our vendor-partner relationships. As part of the leadership team, I collaborate with my peers and supervisor to create and execute our strategic plan.
Do you have a nickname? I had a big group of friends in college and the boys in our bunch called me “Mean Jean” or “Mean One.”
What was your first job? My first job was detasseling corn, but my real first job was working as a car hop at A&W (no roller skates, just tennis shoes). I grew up in a typical, midwestern home with parents who only knew how to work hard. Most of my life I have loved to work. Only over the last few years have I focused on achieving more of a work/life balance.
Who is your hero? My husband, Dusty, and also my dad. My dad taught me to be a servant leader. He gave of himself through volunteering and helping people in need. The biggest gift my dad gave me was his belief in me.
My husband Dusty is the most giving person I have ever met and does so in many different ways. He shares his amazing story and truly has made a positive impact in this world. He has taught me to continually work on myself and has helped me be a better person.
What does your workout regimen consist of? Walking my dogs, Lucy and Carlos, and yoga.
What is your dream job? I’d like to be an international tour guide and have a show on TV like travel writer Rick Steves. Growing up, my family traveled quite a bit and because of that I definitely acquired a love of exploring. In college I was very fortunate to study abroad in Denmark, and had many adventures throughout Europe and even visited the Soviet Union.
What would you choose as your last meal? Mexican food from Tucson. Specifically, a red chile burrito with sour cream and green chile enchiladas, chips and salsa, and guacamole. My husband and I love Sonoran-style Mexican food and we both enjoy making these dishes. We even have our tortillas shipped in overnight from Tucson — they will truly change your life!
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party (living, dead, famous, real or fictional)? This is a fascinating question. Queen Elizabeth I, Brené Brown, Serena Williams and Karen Walker from "Will and Grace."
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to go to Thailand.
If you could solve one major problem, what would it be? The polarization of our country.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Don’t focus on finding your passions. Figure out what you don’t like to do, and don’t do that!
Name one person who has inspired you in your life. Brenda Gerber Vincent of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. Brenda is incredibly smart, authentic and is willing to be vulnerable. Her selflessness to support so many in our community, especially women, is awe-inspiring.
If you received enough money to never need to work again, what would you spend your time doing? My husband is from Cody, Wyoming and, after living in the west for many years, we’ve developed a love for the national parks. We would buy acreage near several parks so that we could camp, hike, ride horses and enjoy these beautiful areas of the United States.
What is your greatest accomplishment? My greatest accomplishment is the continuous work that has to happen to grow and learn; to know how to be aware of strengths and areas for improvement as a human. I’m continuously working to be a self-aware person. This exposes character flaws that you think are resolved, but aren’t. The work to be a better human, mom, wife and leader is never ending.
Describe yourself in three words. Passionate, supportive and authentic.
What book has had the greatest impact on you? In third grade the librarian helped me pick out a book, but I do not remember the name of it. It was the first time I was captured by a story. This was the beginning of my love of reading and my kids have also become voracious readers.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was a teenager/young adult I aspired to be an ambassador or secretary of state. (I still think this would be very interesting.)
What famous person would you most like to meet? I have always wanted to meet Jimmy Carter. His lifelong dedication to peace and health has always inspired me. As a woman in construction my whole life, I admire and love Habitat for Humanity as well.
What do you love most about Fort Wayne? We have lived in Fort Wayne for five-and-a-half years. We have been so impressed with the sense of community and servant leadership in Fort Wayne. I was very fortunate to be a part of Leadership Fort Wayne (LFW) through Greater Fort Wayne. True connections and friendships were developed, and a deeper understanding of this great community. In addition, I am now on the board of directors for the Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michiana. About the same time as LFW, I started on the advisory board for the Women’s Network at Greater Fort Wayne! I love, love, love this group of people that empower, connect and inspire women in our community!
What three items would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island (other than food and water)? Dental floss, music and books.
Where will you go on your next vacation? Maine.
What skill would you like to master? Golf.
What was the last gift you gave someone? A wind-chime for a friend to remember her dog that recently died.
What is the first movie you ever saw in a theater? My best memories are of Grease. I had that double album and spent hours singing and dancing to the soundtrack!